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Monday, July 26, 2010

Can Your Mouse Pointer Influence Google Rankings?

Posted by @ 9:18 pm

ineedhits-clickWe all know that Google’s ranking algorithm uses hundreds of different factors to determine the position of search results – but is your mouse pointer one of them?

According to a recent post on Seo By The Sea, the answer is Yes, after Google was recently granted a patent for determining search relevancy using pointer activity monitoring.

The patent discusses how Google may use information about where searchers hover their mouse pointer as a ranking signal for how relevant those results may be to a search query. This type of monitoring may be used across organic results, sponsored links and Google onebox results.

Below is a snippet from the Google patent,

A typical user’s behavior is to move the mouse pointer (or any other pointing indicator) over or near a target informational item, keep the mouse pointer there for a period of time while the user reads the item’s information (e.g., title and snippet), and then click through the underlying link or move to another item.

Sometimes, a user may review multiple informational items responsive to a search query, moving a pointer over or near each of the informational items that the user reviews. These various pointer activities can provide another way to evaluate the user’s feedback with respect to a particular informational item.

While the patent was only recently approved, it has been 5 years in the making so there’s no guarantee on the extent that Google are currently using this technology.

Heatmap and eye tracking providers have used similar systems for many years to monitor users, so I do believe it would provide search engines some useful data.

What do you think about the patent, do you use the mouse pointer as a tracker as you read over a page? Let us know in the comments below.

Matthew Elshaw Matt is a marketing professional at, an international search marketing firm. Matt's passion for online marketing began at university and has proved invaluable in steering product development and marketing initiatives at the company. Matt is a regular contributor to the ineedhits search marketing blog.

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Discussion (5 - comments)

This is a very interesting piece of information. Do I use the mouse to point to what interests me? Sometimes ~ but not always simply because there is too much information on some pages to keep moving the mouse and its easier to skim with my eyes. I never used to but I’m finding myself skimming pages more and more lately.

I think as one’s knowledge grows, we become less tolerant of reading stuff we already know so we skim instead of reading word by word or sentences.

But from now on, I will be much more aware of where I point my mouse. It nmakes perfect sense (cents?) for Google to use this type of technology especially as they hold the patent on it.

By Jan - July 27, 2010

I will use this technique, On my own ecommerce website. If Google analytic will include it

By Ravi Shrivastav - July 27, 2010

I sure hope they don’t! Those guys just have WAY TOO much time on their hands (including their patent lawyers.) I find myself bludgeoned by these stupid ads on certain sites which open a page-wide popup simply by accidently moving the cursor over them from one side of the page in order to get to the actual link you intended to click in the middle of the page. You literally have to map a course around them to get safely to the link you want. I now avoid these sites at all costs. My point is, they would have to differentiate between moving between points vs. actually pausing long enough to consider clicking. Even if you DID read it and you wind up NOT clicking there was probably a very good reason to dis it. What if my mouse slips off the desk from the maid cleaning after hours? Will I suddenly be endorsing a porn site?

By Mike - July 27, 2010

do u have a twitter

By income tax calculator - July 29, 2010

Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!

By pharmacy technician - August 10, 2010

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